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Positive thinking

Illustration by Marie

After reading all the rants about Japan over the last few months, it makes me wonder why people actually stay here.

It probably has something to do with the fact that they, like myself, love many things about Japan. But because most of the positive things pass us by barely noticed, it's good to be reminded of the positive things now and again.

Japan has a frustrating habit of being both very convenient and being infuriatingly inconvenient at the same time. A typical example would be to catch a highly efficient train on any number of public holidays, go into a bank only to find you cant take any money out, resulting in a gut wrenching feeling of psychopathic anger and total disbelief-in short, ruining your day. After all this is one of the biggest cities in the world and it is the 21st century. I mean, what's all that about?

Unfortunately for most of us, it's only the negative experiences that stick out. The positive experiences happen quite often, but are quickly or instantaneously forgotten. They are more often than not simply taken for granted.

An example of this would have to be the sheer simplicity in paying bills. You can pay for them almost anywhere. Also, the train service is the best. Where else could you time a journey to the exact second? This is another service Japan provides which is taken in our stride. It's so efficiently run it's never noticed. That must be the biggest compliment to its efficiency - the fact that you don't even think twice about it.

Finally, although I could go on, there's the godsend that is the beer-vending machine. It's only really brought up in a conversation where someone's bitching about how they switch off at 11pm. What an absolutely wonderful idea - a machine that dispenses beer. Genius!

Other pluses include: convenience stores, karaoke bars (another brilliant idea), and the safety aspect - where else in the world could you happily fall asleep in the park and wake up uninjured and still with wallet?

There are a lot of positive things here; we just need to remind ourselves about them from time to time.

Many thanks to reader Leigh Norrie for this Rant.

Got something positive to say? We know that there are aspects of Tokyo that you love, and we'd like to hear about them from you. Send your 500-word rave (or rant, if you must) by fax to 03-3423-6931, or email to  

Metropolis Online
349: Life in the cycle lane
Playing chicken with a ladybike
348: Daisuki na Tokyo
Tokyo's my favorite!
347: Nihongo dake!
Why am I not fluent in Japanese yet?
346: People make the city
The beauty of Tokyo's people
345: Cross Training
Commuting by train in Tokyo
344: Yellow Line Fever
A guide for the blind... and a pain in the neck
343: Welcome to Tokyo
What did you bring me?
342: Positive thinking
Three reasons why we love Japan
341: I'm a rounder...
Veterans of Japan vs. Japan rookies
340: Discard your bank cards
The labour of replacing lost bank cards
339: Shoganai...
It can't be helped
338: Respect your environment
Poluution problem in Tokyo
337: Strike Three - You're Enlightened
How omiyage ruins a vacation
336: Missing manners
No manners outside of Japan
335: Goodbye jitensha
Is stealing bikes a popular pastime in Japan?
334: War of the Words
English borrows from other languages too!
333: ENGLISH ONLY, please
Don't bother writing your name in Japanese
332: A menu carved in stone
No special requests for lunch!
331: The Zen of Looking Busy
The art behind faking work
330: Lyrical Phlegm
Japan's spitting dilemma
329: Rock harder, Japan
Big, bad and ugly concerts
328: Noise Deficiency
The unrelenting quiet that is not Japan
327: Chopstick Diplomat
Constant questioning = constant answering
326: Game over
Cutting off the game for regular scheduled program
325: Grown pains
The hooligan behavior of middle-aged salarymen
324: The Price of Fame
Young teen actors light up on-screen
323: A Customary Affair
The universal language of consumerism
322: Robber barons
JR steals from the rich.. and the poor
321: Tegami Or Not Tegami
Deny the letter to save money
320: The Garbage Men
Variations of the "salaryman"
319: Holidaze
Japan - Home of the lamest holidays in the world
318: Box your ears
Be the karaoke star you've always dreamed of
317: The winter of my discontent
No oden if it's spring please!
316: The Bells
Going insane from bells and voices
315: The Big Tokyo Trash Mystery
No garbage cans + too much garbage= a clean city?
314: The Kamikaze Spirit
The war may be over but the spirit lives on
313: Movie Mania
Laughing alone in the corner
312: Geek parade
What's going on with gaijin men?
311: Gleaming gomi
Rinse it out before you throw it out
310: Lower Mathematics
Teaching practical mathematical equations
309: Escalator clots
Blocking the flow of escalator traffic
308: Sky's the limit
Favorite channel on the hit list
307: Bring on the studmuffins
Thanks to the "Men looking for women"
306: Burning Rubber
Narrowly averting bicycle collisions
305: Fishy Business
The sushi wasn't dead
304: The Invisible Gaijin
When gaijins collide
303: Talk work only
The Japanese perception of idleness
302: From kotatsu, with love
A blanket covered electric coffee table
300: Why 2K?
The millennium bug ain't no big deal

ISSUES 350-381
ISSUES 250-299

ISSUES 233-249